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Leaving the bench and taking the stand

"Leaving the bench and taking the stand" Continued...

Issue: "Armey’s flight of faith," Aug. 31, 1996

"They can issue a cry on Nov. 5 by leaving blank the spot next to President Clinton's name."

Which is what he'll urge all Democrats within his hearing to do, even if they are going to vote the straight Democratic ticket otherwise.

He won't, however, encourage voters to pull the lever for Bob Dole or any other candidate.

In his years on the bench, he said, he avoided Democratic politics in order to maintain the integrity of the judgeship.

In the same sense, he doesn't want to pollute his message with partisan politics. And, he says, he's practical. Judge Thomas believes "blacks aren't going to go out and vote Republican," but he does hope at least many will decline to support Mr. Clinton.

He was at a judges' convention in Montgomery, discussing with a fellow believer the moral dilemma presented by the issue of legal abortions.

A member of the Alabama Supreme Court stopped and inquired about their conversation. Upon hearing their topic, the justice said, without a pause: "Just follow the law."

To which Judge Thomas replied: So, if this were 150 years ago, and a black man were brought into your courtroom, you would treat him like a piece of property?

The judge had no response. But later, he hunted down Judge Thomas. "I have the answer," he said. "Render unto Caesar what is Caesar's."

Judge Thomas prayed silently for a response and heard this answer spill from his lips: That story, he reminded the justice, was about the Pharisees trying to trip Jesus up over the issue of paying taxes. Jesus asked them to look at a coin and tell them whose image was on the coin. "Give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's."

Then Judge Thomas asked: "In whose image, Mr. Justice, are these little children made?"

Mr. Grelen is a columnist for the Mobile Press-Register.

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